Doctor’s Day: ‘Don’t remember the last time I hugged my kids’

'Emergencies are a way of life but I love my work. And I hope this will end soon. And I hope they will soon be in my arms again and I can love them once again without the fear of contracting any virus.'

By Dr Akta Bajaj

As a doctor for over two decades, working in Emergency has always been a part of my life. As a gynaecologist, I understood very early that I can never have a normal schedule. I couldn’t be a part of my children’s PTMs because they usually happen during my peak operating hours. How can I leave my patients behind when they need us? They were with us for nine months and it’s our responsibility to make their family grow. For such a duty, there is no lockdown and whenever there is an emergency, I step out and finish my duty, no matter how difficult the situation.

But, I have always made it a point to give it my all when I am with my kids at home. I sit with them, play and love them with a fierceness that comes from knowing you have only two hours to fill in for what should be a 24-hour job. I know that feeling. I used it a lot to cover up my studies as a student.

However, working in a pandemic is a completely different ballgame. Coronavirus has changed our lives so much that I have completely forgotten what a normal life feels like. Every day is a new lesson for us as doctors but at the same time it’s taking me away from my family and kids, who are my lifelines and stress-busters. The rising number of cases keeps me constantly on my toes. I really don’t remember the last time I gave a tight hug to my children. Everytime I get close to them, there is a fear that suddenly comes to my mind that I may be spreading the deadly virus in their bodies.

Though the coronavirus scare is present, I have been communicating with my kids. If I don’t have to leave early in the morning, I make sure that I exercise with them and go out to the nearest park for a quick walk. Doing so not only refreshes my mind but also gives us our own bonding time. My 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter understand the severity of the situation. They often ask me about the scenario in the hospital and I do share experiences with them, trying to give a positive picture. As my husband and I are both doctors, we have a full-time house-help to take care of the kids in our absence.

I know I can’t put them at risk. So I try my best to hold my feelings inside by always maintaining a three-feet distance from them whenever I am exercising or interacting with them. As doctors, we have been trained well to do that. This process is no doubt a traumatic experience for every parent. The need of the hour is to adapt to the “new normal”. I have tuned in to a situation when it comes to dealing with our own stress and mental health. I make sure to give ample time for hobbies, when there is no work and spend as much time as I can with my kids. This is my way of diverting my mind to something good rather than thinking about something terrible.

Well, emergencies are a way of life but I love my work. And I hope this will end soon. And I hope they will soon be in my arms again and I can love them once again without the fear of contracting any virus. Till then, I will keep operating and seeing my patients with a smile. I can’t stay at home. But I hope you all will, so that I can go back to my kids sooner as it’s a collective fight against this unseen and unknown virus.

(The writer is a senior consultant and head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ujala Cygnus Healthcare)

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